Mk7 'Cockle' Canoe
(photo copyright of Thomas Feeney)
The canoe is an Mk7 'Cockle' (that was their code name), made on the Isle of Wight to aircraft specification by Warwick Aviation in April 1945, number 103 out of 200 ordered. Its wartime name was 'ARGO'. It is 18' long and capable of being taken apart and assembled.
When completed it was sent to Hayling Island in Hampshire, where the crews were trained under Commander Goulding and ultimately under Mountbatten.
The canoe was sent to the Far East as part of Combined Operations, armed with supplies of limpet mines and a Vickers K machine gun. Dropped by submarine or Catalina flying boats, crews would sail towards their target. Nearer they would drop sails and paddle in, either to collect information on possible landing sites for invasion, or to enter enemy ports and sink shipping.
There are probably only seven or so left in the World. When used, they were considered lucky if the services got one back! This one found its way to England in the late seventies. Bought by a former soldier who recognised what it was, he used it to hunt ducks on a private lake for 30 years.
Argo came into the ownership of brothers Thomas and Laurence Feeney when planning to build a replica. They found the real thing! They purchased it for a sum which they promised not to disclose. Time was spent restoring the craft. Thomas and Laurence say 'we are not afraid to put it back on the water, although we do appreciate its great age and rarity. Although our backgrounds are military (Army and Navy), we dress as Naval Officers on Hayling Island in WW2, using (mostly) authentic uniforms, complete with Dunlop wellington boots with sea socks! No Vickers k machine gun yet, but we live in hope'.
Thames at War are delighted to welcome Thomas and Laurence with Argo in 2019.
Photos courtesy of Bill King